The Center for the American Experiment (CAE) is an advocacy group based in Minnesota and is a member of the State Policy Network (SPN). Members in SPN have helped to move the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (and its fossil fuel memberships’) anti-clean energy agenda in state capitols.
In 2015, CAE released a report claiming that the solar industry is reliant on subsidies and that cities and schools are embracing solar installations even though “they can take 40, 50, or even 100 years to pay for themselves.”
While the exact payback period for a solar installation varies by location and a number of other factors such as the price of electricity in a utility’s territory, CAE’s estimates are simply misinformation meant to attack the solar energy industry. According to Clean Power Research, a company that provides clients with software-based renewable energy data, the average payoff period for a Minnesota solar installation is 14 years. For comparison, California offers average payback periods of about 9 years, and it takes 7 years to recoup all upfront costs in New Jersey, and just 4 years to pay off solar panels in Massachusetts.